College interviews can seem scary, but they are really, really not. If you’re prepared and excited about the school where you’re interviewing, your college interview will usually help you rather than hurt you!
Many students have never had an interview before, and if they have, it was probably for a job, which is a bit different. It is easy to be intimidated by new experiences, but think of this one as an adventure and an opportunity. Here’s some advice on what to expect!
Before the interview: What to bring with you
Being prepared can help you walk in the door of an interview with confidence. When interviewing for college, there are a few things you’ll want to take with you to make the best impression possible.
- Bring two copies of your activity resume. You can give one to the officer, and use the other as a reference to help you talk about your achievements and experiences.
- Also bring your ACT and SAT test scores, your transcript, and copies of additional letters of recommendations.
- A copy of your completed application is also a good thing to bring to reference during the interview.
- Put all your papers in some kind of professional looking folder. This folder should probably not have a cat (or other cute, fuzzy animal) on it.
1. Admissions officers love talking to young people.
If they didn’t like teenagers, there are about 100 other offices on campus they could be working in—trust me. The people you will be meeting love actually meeting the new students; they love students. You’re a student, so you’re already halfway there! Think of the nicest teacher at your school—that’s like the person you will be meeting for the interview.
2. The people working in admissions love their college.
People graduate from the college but really don’t want to leave because they loved it so much, so they get a job working for the college, in admissions. If you love the college, you already have something huge in common with this person, so yay! Research the school very well beforehand and know your facts. To learn more, check out the CollegeMapper handouts on this.
3. It’s just a fun conversation with a new person.
Every time my students come back from an interview, they always say, “That wasn’t so bad!” Every time. For yeeeears. You will say this, too. It’s normal to be nervous, which they expect and which is charming. However, they will say nice things to calm you down and get you talking, and then all of the sudden you are having a fun conversation for 30 to 45 minutes with a really nice person. And you survive and live to tell about it. You’ll be a star!
4. What they might ask you
One of the ways the admissions officers try to help you calm down a little is by asking you about yourself, so be ready for this. They will want to know what you do at your school and what you like about your school and activities, what you enjoy, and what hobbies you have. They’ll also ask you what you read about and care about. They are just trying to get to know you, so spend a bit of time thinking about what you want to be sure to share. And always stay positive!
5. It’s the perfect time for you to show your love for the college.
It’s easy to feel relaxed when you talk about something you love, so when you really love a college and have researched your many reasons why, you instantly feel more calm in the interview. An interviewer will always want to know what you love about their school, so be ready to share this—with cold, hard facts! It is perfectly acceptable to take notes to the interview and to write notes during it, if you like.
After the interview: Following up
ALWAYS send a thank you card afterward, so get the person’s business card as you are leaving. Finish the interview with a nice, firm handshake, good eye contact, and a smile. You got this, kid! Yay, college!